School is out, vacation time has arrived and many cat owners ask whether or not they should sedate their felines when they travel. Generally cats hate riding in cars or on planes and so those who can’t leave their kitties behind ask what the pros and cons of sedation are.
The pros of sedation are that sodalities have been used for years in cats to compose them and decrease nervousness, more often than not in association with loud noises or frightening, strange circumstances. True, kitty is calmed down, but. . .
For most felines, sedatives are not suggested. Even nervous cats, once they are in a carrier in a quiet dark place, classically calm down and even fall asleep.
The principal disadvantage of sedating cats for air travel is that there is no one to check on them or tender medical care if problems crop up. As with any other drug, sedatives have side effects. The most compelling and prospective life threatening problem associated with sedation is the influence on blood pressure. Most sedatives lower the blood pressure which can make the cat cold and muzzy. Cargo cabins are not heated and, in winter months, are rather cool. This cool environment, in combination with lower blood pressure and a colder body temperature, can result in hypothermia. If left untreated, low blood pressure and hypothermia and can be fatal. Another concern is that the consequence of high altitude on the action of sedatives is not known. What is known is that sedative use has been implicated as a causative factor to many cat air travel deaths.
Taken as a whole, sedation for traveling cats is not recommended.
Even for those cats that may profit from sedation, you must be scrupulously aware of all the side effects, complications, and risks of using a sedative. You and your feline would almost certainly be safer, and have a much more pleasant vacation, if sedatives were not involved.
Another option, as opposed to taking your cat with you, is getting a trusted pet sitter. You will miss your cat, true, but there is Skype and the happy day when you will return home to be reunited with kitty.